Thomas Girardi was born on June 3, 1939. He used to be an attorney and helped start the law firm Girardi & Keese, which is no longer in business. He was kicked out of the bar in 2022 because customers said he had cheated them.
Girardi went to Loyola High School in Los Angeles and got his diploma there in 1957. In 1965, he got his degree from New York University. In 1970, Girardi was the first lawyer in California to win a medical malpractice case worth more than $1 million. Girardi has worked on important cases against the former Lockheed Corporation (now Lockheed Martin Corporation), Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and seven of the biggest Hollywood movie studios.
In one important case against Pacific Gas & Electric, the utility agreed to pay $460 million to 650 people living in the Hinckley Desert community in California. People in the area have said that contaminated water leaking from gas stations caused cancer and other illnesses. The movie Erin Brockovich (2000), which starred Julia Roberts, was based on this case. He told Law Journal’s lawyers, “This case has completely changed the way people think about all the toxic substances they’re exposed to.” He was also a consultant for the movie.
The California Bar Association gave him the honor of being put into the Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame in 2003. His website says that he is a board member and former president of the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers. This is a global group of only 500 trial lawyers who are invited to join. Girardi was also the first trial lawyer to be put on the California Judiciary Board, which is the group that makes decisions for state courts.
Girardi is known for his work in Democratic politics. He has given millions of dollars to campaigns, helped with fundraisers, and given advice to governors about who should be judges.
In 2010, Girardi was one of a group of lawyers who tried to get a $489 million default judgment against Dole Food and Shell Chemicals from a U.S. court. The judgment was supposedly issued by a Nicaraguan court because of the effects of the pesticide DBCP on workers who were exposed to it. It is taken away. The U.S. court found that Girardi and others had done a poor job of translating the Nicaragua-related documents they sent in. Girardi and others were told in writing what they did wrong, and her law firm was fined for not telling the courts what it was supposed to.